Facebook had a 'role' in Rohingya genocide

Frederick Owens
March 14, 2018

He adds that it has "substantially contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict".

A Rohingya refugee girl is seen crying in front of newly-arrived refugees who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in Ukhiya. "Hate speech and incitement to violence on social media is rampant, particularly on Facebook. As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media", chairman of the fact-finding mission Marzuki Darusman was quoted as saying by the agency.

"We are not denying rights violations but we are asking for strong, fact-based, and trustworthy evidence on the allegations they are making", Myanmar government spokesman Zaw Htay told the AP.

Government spokesman Zaw Htay said the reports presented Tuesday by the Independent Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar and Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Myanmar Yanghee Lee lacked credibility.

The most prominent of Myanmar's hard-line nationalist monks, Wirathu, emerged from a one-year preaching ban on Saturday and said his anti-Muslim rhetoric had nothing to do with violence in Rakhine state. Roughly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar's military launched a crackdown on Rohingya people in Myanmar's Rakhine State in August 2017.

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Myanmar argues that its "clearance operation" is a counter-insurgency in response to deadly attacks by Rohingya militants, and last week demanded the United Nations provide "clear evidence" of atrocities against the Rohingya. But she added: "Ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities ..."

"I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast", Lee told reporters.

The UN has been denied access to Rakhine since late previous year, so both Lee and the fact-finding mission have been forced to conduct their investigations in Cox's Bazaar in Bangladesh, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya are now living in refugee camps.

In Myanmar, which is still effectively controlled by the military, Facebook is so prevalent that it essentially functions as the entire internet, and is the main source of information for citizens (a local digital marketing agency puts the share of the population on Facebook at about 20%). Adama Dieng, who this past week visited Bangladesh's refugee camps and met officials, also urged the UN Security Council to hold Myanmar to account over the "international crimes".

Though Facebook has yet to comment on UN's recent statement, the social media giant has previously admitted that it faces difficulty in tackling hate speech.

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